Last night I had a dream that I was in Greece, in a traditional home, having lunch with a few people from my church… Julia Roberts and her kids. It was Julia’s grandmother’s house. Even while I was dreaming, I reflected that I was giving Julia a chilly reception.
Later, after I woke up and as I was pouring my morning coffee, I said out loud (to the dog), “I am jealous of Julia Roberts.” I channeled those thoughts into speech so I could recognize that feeling, however silly, and get on with my morning. It’s one of those feelings that is based in sinful, human nature – a feeling the spirit of God gives us power to overcome. I envy her because she seems to have it all. The truth is everyone has a measure of trouble and heartache in life. If we could swap lives with people, we’d trade and trade again to find out we were probably not so bad off to begin with. I don’t want Julia’s life; I love my life.
Nonetheless, one of the things about Julia that makes her enviable is that she has a lot of champions, as our verse calls them. Today, we just call them by the simple misnomer “friends.” Everyone wants to be Julia’s friend. I bet she was popular in high school. She’s a variation on the theme of that person we all know from school, church or the job – that elusive other who seems to have it all, and in particular, a following of the most popular people.
Even if we have some close friends and know just how blessed we are by that, we may still be tempted to feel jealous that we don’t have the following that Ms. Popular has. Why is everyone so fascinated with her? That’s a hard question answered best with the French expression je ne sais quoi (pronounced: szhun say quah). It means “I don’t know,” but we often use it to mean “a certain something.”
Yes, some people do have a certain “I don’t know what.” But you know what? That “I don’t know what” won’t keep them from becoming a “you know what” some day. Even the Julia Robertses of the world have personal devastations. It seems we all get our share of them in life. And when that happens, will Ms. Popular have spread her affections so thin that no one friend in particular is invested enough to come to her aid?
When we’re at our lowest point, if we are truly blessed, we will have one, maybe two friends who we don’t even have to turn to because they are already there. This is the friend you don’t have to seek out because she’s been with you through it all and she’s not leaving now that times are tough – now that you’re no fun and can’t make her laugh. She is there to share the hurt in your heart in a way that even your sister can’t (unless that friend is your sister!).
Do you have a friend who is closer than a sister? A close friendship is a gift. You can’t just make one with anyone you pick at random. God has to place that right person in your life. If that person is already there, invest yourself heavily in that relationship – it pays off! If you don’t have that kind of friend yet, ask God to send you one, and while you’re waiting, know that we all have a friend in Jesus. He’s there too, if you will just open your heart to Him.
Of all my friends and family, Jesus stuck closer to me than anyone during my dark time. He’s got the advantage of being omnipresent, of course, and I really needed that on some sleepless nights. And with a friend like that, who needs personal cheerleaders? Yea, Julia’s got nothin’ on me.
Hold this thought: Having a lot of friends is not nearly as important as having one really good one.